Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Green Men

I have a conflicting opinion on the superhero genre. I like superheroes, and I enjoy a good comic book now and again. Superman and Batman are American icons, of course, and I've always been drawn to superheroes for their mythology and symbolism. In a superhero story, political and social issues can be addressed in a more entertaining way, and there is, of course, always the psychology of the heroes themselves: what drives people to put on a costume and go fight for justice? Of course, there are the obvious answers of special powers, but then there's that driving sense of responsibility and purpose; why is that present? What is it about being different or "special" that makes our heroes believe that they have to protect the world? There's a lot of juicy stuff going on there, but, with the exception of Kick-Ass (which I thought was great), Chris Nolan's Batman films and a few others, superhero movies haven't really addressed these things. For the most part, walking into a superhero film, we're going to see the protagonist become a hero, quickly get adjusted to his powers, fight the villain, encounter a difficult moment in which he must overcome his weakness, and then save the day. The superhero varies, but the story remains the same. And even on television, where character development and enrichment is much easier, superheroes still suffer from a lack of those very things; Heroes, despite its promise (and my desperate hopes), was never more than an overlong superhero movie, but with its characters growing more and more cliche and the plotting becoming more and more plodding (particularly in the dreadful fourth season; even though I'll defend the show's first three seasons as having some merits, there's nothing I can do for the county-fair-carnival plot).
I've written this lengthy preamble to clarify that I am not opposed to the superhero genre, but rather that I wish it would show us something new. This was inspired by two bits of news surrounding some very high-profile superhero projects, The Avengers and The Green Lantern. And this news has not necessarily been inspiring to me.
Entertainment Weekly has revealed the first image of Ryan Reynolds as The Green Lantern, which you can see below.
As is always the case, most of his costume looks like CGI effects, and the design itself is a rather big letdown. Are we to believe that his costume and his skin are the same? But regardless of how it looks, I fear that the film will be another standard superhero film, with Reynold's charisma potentially being it's saving grace (see: Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man; anyone else in that role and it would have been a failure). I don't believe Reynold's is a particularly gifted actor, which fits the standard-superhero-film bill, and that may be just fine for this film.
On the other hand, sometimes truly talented actors are drawn into the superhero genre, and the results have been mixed at best. Take, for example, the rumors that Mark Ruffalo (currently starring in The Kids Are Alright) could fill the vacancy of The Incredible Hulk in The Avengers left by Edward Norton (who is also insanely talented). I really hope this isn't actually going to happen, and I feel so wrong for saying that, because on paper it sounds so right: an all-star team of Marvel superheroes banding together to protect the world, directed by Joss Whedon. But therein lies the problem: with the delay-prone Whedon at the helm (seriously, will someone please just let him make something without causing a million problems?), I kind of doubt we'll ever see this film materialize, despite Marvel's shameless efforts to get it going through promoting it within it's other films (I'm pretty sure at least a quarter of Iron Man 2 was devoted to setting up The Avengers). It would be a waste of time for all involved if it's just going to sit around in development hell.
Mark Ruffalo, who starred in 'The Kids Are Allright,' is reportedly in talks to replace Ed Norton as the Hulk in 'The Avengers.'
So what do you think about all this? Comments are always welcome.

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